Game 47

May 26, 1993 – Martinez Home Run off Canseco’s Head

The 1990s were the prime years of blooper videos. Prior to viral videos and instant analysis I can remember waiting for the Sportscenter “Not Top 10” to see that week’s gaffes and miscues. One clip that will always make an all-time compilation of baseball bloopers is Carlos Martinez hit a long fly ball to the warning track in Municipal Stadium.

Rangers right fielder Jose Canseco raced onto the track and threw up a glove. He evidently mis-judged the ball, because it hit him square on the top of the head and bounced over the outfield wall. Martinez circled the bases, and the Indians later went on to win 7-6.

Baseball Reference Box Score

Honorable Mention: May 21, 2014 – Walk-Off Balk in the 13th Inning

In this 5 hour see-saw battle of a game, the Tribe and Tigers exchanged blows for 13 innings.

David Murphy tied the game with a two-run home run in the bottom of the 9th off Tigers closer Joe Nathan.

In the top of the 13th, the Tigers took the lead when Alex Avila launched a home run on the first pitch he saw from Josh Tomlin–the ninth Indians pitcher to work that day. In the bottom of the thirteenth, Michael Brantley tied the game with an RBI single to left field. David Murphy grounded out, and Al Albuquerque was brought in from the Tiger’s bullpen. Albuquerqe intentionally walked Yan Gomes to load the bases and pitch to Ryan Rayburn.

On the way to the 1-0 pitch, Albuquerque started his throwing motion and stopped to reset. Home plate umpire Craig Gibson immediately called the balk, and awarded first base to Rayburn, forcing in Asdrubal Cabrera to end the game in a most unlikely fashion.

Baseball Reference Box Score


Game 45

Swindell near-Maddux Marred by Baerga Error

First off, ‘What’s a Maddux?” Jason Lukehart invented the term, and is the best resource to explain it in full. In short, The starting pitcher must toss a shutout, and he must throw fewer than 100 pitches.

Greg Swindell came into 1991 as one one of the best young pitchers in the majors on a historically bad team. Swindell lead the League in walks per 9 innings and strikeout/walk ratio, but still ended the season with 16 losses. The 1991 Indians scored 98 fewer runs than any other team in the American League, averaging only 3.6 runs per game.

No single game exemplifies Swindell’s talent and the 1991 team’s ineptitude more than Game 45.

Over 22,000 fans came out to Municipal Stadium on a beautiful June Saturday see Swindell match up with Bill Gullickson and the Tigers. With one out in the top of the first, Swindell hit Lou Whitaker with a pitch. Then, Carlos Baerga booted a grounder by Alan Trammel, allowing Trammel to reach on the error put Whitaker on third. Next up, Cecil Fielder hit a weak grounder to shortstop, scoring Whitaker on the fielder’s choice.

In the bottom of the first, Mark Lewis reached on a single to right field. Chris James sent a line drive triple to to center, allowing Lewis to score easily.

In the bottom of the fourth, Tribe catcher Joel Skinner drove home Brook Jacoby with a line drive to short left field. Carlos Baerga led off the bottom of the sixth with a double. With two outs, and after an intentional walk of Skinner, shortstop Felix Fermin drove in Baerga to bring the score to 3-1.

That was all the run support that Swindell needed. He worked efficiently and ruthlessly through the Detroit lineup. Swindell worked 1-2-3 innings in the 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 9th. He needed only 90 pitches to dispatch the Tigers, 68 of which were strikes. He issued no walks, and struck out six. This game would qualify as a Maddux, if not for the unearned run scored after Baerga’s error.

Baseball Reference Box Score


Game 43

May 23, 2012 – Vinnie Pestano Records a Strikeout in 23 Straight Appearances

2012 was a tumultuous year for the Indians. In mid-May, you could say that the fanbase was divided. The Tribe was in first place in the Central Division, but dead last in attendance. Fans had not bought in to the team after their hot start and slow decline throughout 2011.

The previous Saturday, closer Chris Perez was quoted in a post game interview saying, “Guys don’t want to come over here, and people wonder why. Why doesn’t Carlos Beltran want to come over here? Well, because of that [poor attendance] That’s part of it. It doesn’t go unnoticed — trust us. I’m not calling out the fans. It’s just how it is. … Nobody wants to play in front of 5,000 fans.”

In fact, 22,000 filed into the ballpark for this Wednesday evening matchup with the Tigers. Both Zach McAllister and the Tiger’s Doug Fister pitched shutout baseball through the fifth inning. In the top of the 6th, Tigers center fielder Quentin Berry led off with a double. Andy Dirks drove him in with a line drive double to right field. Dirks tagged up on a long fly out by Miguel Cabrera, and was driven in on a fielder’s choice by Prince Fielder.

Travis Hafner tied the game at 2-2 with a drive to deep right field scoring Jason Kipnis.

McAllister began to struggle again in the top of the 7th, giving up back to back singles to Ramon Santiago and Gerald Laird. Matchup pitching by bullpen arms  Nick Hagadone and Joe Smith got the Tribe out of the 7th unscathed.

Prince Fielder reached on a Jason Kipnis throwing error to lead off the top of the 8th. Vinny Pestano was brought in to replace Tony Sipp, who had faced only Fielder. Pestano was quickly becoming a reliable setup man, but got into a bit of trouble early in this outing when he gave up consecutive singles to load the bases.

With the bases full of Tigers, he got former Indian Jhonny Perralta to strike out swinging on three consecutive pitches. With this, Pestano made an obscure–but impressive–entry in the Indian’s franchise record book. He recorded a strikeout in twenty-three consecutive appearances.

Pestano got Ramon Santiago to ground out, and then struck out Alex Avila to end the inning. In the bottom of the 8th, the Indians manufactured two runs that would make the deadball era proud. Kipnis scored on a fielder’s choice when Travis Hafner hit once sharply to first and Prince Fielder botched the throw to the plate. Carlos Santana pushed Asdrubal Cabrera across the plate with a sacrifice fly, bringing the score to 4-2.

Chris Perez retired the Tigers in order to get his 15th save of the season.  He was cheered heartily by the 22,000 in the ballpark, but remained a controversial figure throughout his stay in Cleveland. He was released at the end of the 2013 season after throwing up on the mound and having weed delivered to his dog via USPS. But he amassed 124 saves with the Tribe, achieved two All-Star appearances for some mediocre teams in need of a Firestarter.

Baseball Reference Box Score


Game 33

May 14, 1994 – Paul Shuey Strikes Out Four in the 9th Inning

The Indians selected Paul Shuey as the second overall pick in the 1992 amatuer draft. He was projected to be the Indians closer as the 1990s dynasty began to gel together.

About a month after moving into Jacobs Field, the Indians were 16-17 and facing the Tigers in a weekend divisional series. Jack Morris started for the Tribe against Bill Gullickson.

Eddie Murray put the Indians in the lead on the bottom of the first with a line drive triple to deep right field, scoring Carlos Baerga and Albert Belle.

In the bottom of the fifth with two outs, Manny Ramirez launched a three-run home run to deep right field. The Indians would continue to cruise through the rest of the game, eventually bringing a 9-3 lead into the top of the ninth.

Paul Shuey came on to replace setup man Jose Mesa who had given up one run on three hits in the 7th and 8th. Shuey got Chad Kreuter to strike out looking on six pitches. Next up was Chris Gomez, who struck out looking in a seven pitch at-bat. Then, Shuey issued two consecutive walks to Tony Philips and Milt Cuyler.

With two outs, Travis Fryman came to the plate. On the 0-2 pitch, Fryman struck out swinging, but the ball got away from Sandy Alomar. Fryman took first base on the wild pitch, and the other runners advanced to load the bases. Undeterred, Shuey headed back to the mound and struck out Cecil Fielder to end the game.

He became the 24th MLBer to record four strikeouts in an inning, and the first to do so in the ninth to end the game. 88 different pitchers have pitched four-strikeout innings to date.

In addition to Shuey, five Indians have pitched four strikeout innings:

Honorable Mention:

May 7, 2008 – Cliff Lee starts the season 6 – 0 will go on to win Cy Young.